No, I won’t tell you what DevOps is. Tell me what you want to achieve instead

by Justin Arbuckle, Vice President Worldwide Transformation & Chief Enterprise Architect

Enough of the navel-gazing and phony definition war. Whether DevOps is a buzzword or not, or what it covers and doesn’t cover, is not a valuable conversation.

Instead, we should focus first and foremost on the outcomes — the specific results our clients are trying to achieve in their business. Otherwise, you begin by, or even worse end up, having a dogmatic argument about methodologies. In spite of the fact that technology and ways of working are just tools — a means to an end.

For today’s CIO, that end is making and rapidly shipping great software, and enabling your teams to adapt over time. This means the software and products get better, and the teams that make the software and products get better, too.


Agile Lean DevOps Outcomes

An effective approach for achieving this, is one I call ALDO – Agile, Lean, DevOps and Outcomes. This begins with a practical discussion about what you’re trying to achieve. Then you consider what combination of approaches will help deliver the results you need.

After all, do our clients really care about whether they fit someone else’s particular definition of DevOps? Or whether they’re doing lean implementation the way Toyota does it?

When the time comes to consider which approach will be of most value, it helps to be clear what is at the core of each.

Agile means making and delivering projects in smaller chunks. This way you’re able to change what you’re building, based on customer feedback, while you’re building it.

Lean means removing every barrier that adds friction to your development process, or adds friction to your attempts to create value for the customer.

DevOps is about ensuring that everybody across your organisation who is a stakeholder in the outcome of a particular application, is also stakeholder in its creation. This is best exemplified by the collaboration of Developers – who write the software – with Operations – who run or support the software, from the conception of the project to its conclusion.

Now what task in the world isn’t better tackled by breaking it down into smaller pieces? Or adapting if the task changes? Or using more efficient processes? Or collaborating more?



Finding the Right Approach for You

So you can start to see it’s not really a question of which approach is better, because none of them are ‘better’ than the other, and all are relevant. Which is why the question should be – which approach is most relevant to what you’re trying to achieve?

Ultimately, it is now incredibly important for companies to develop and deploy software at scale, faster and more easily. The rise of software has changed the operating model of entire industries, and increased the pressure on not only the established players, but everyone else, as well.

This has put CIOs in nearly every sector under unprecedented pressure to move faster and deliver software and services that drive business value. Yet software and staffing budgets are not growing significantly.

Zo to do more with less, without burning out your people, you’ve got to do things differently.  You need cultural change and new tools – you need a bespoke combination of Agile, Lean, DevOps, and a relentless focus on Outcomes.

Doing so will help us all start to have more results-based discussions, both with each other and our clients, about what we’re actually trying to achieve.